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span class=”blog”>A camel is a horse designed by committee.
Last night at City Hall, the people were given a presentation detailing what has gone on with the Water Street project since Biltmore Homes were kicked to the curb. Because of a pressing engagement with a Mr. Guiness in Madison Heights, I was late and missed the whole thing save the Q&A session. Even so, I was able to see what the residents want. They want eco-friendly housing with lots of greenspace, supermarkets, and office space for non-profit organizations. These buildings should be affordable yet high-end. Formaldehyde outgassing should be kept to a minimum if at all possible with all parking surfaces being permeable.
The only comment that made me shake my head was a concern about the possibility of there being too much commercial space in town with the new vision. The Michigan Avenue shopping district needs competetion. Perhaps the businesses don’t, but the landlords do. If you want to open a business on the Ave now, a potential entrepreneur needs to sink a ton of cash into a building / storefront just for the opportunity to be a struggling business. Current downtown business owners don’t like that idea and are mildly pissed because they thought Water Street wouldn’t give them competition, but the landlords have more to do with the current lack of development in town than anyone. On your way to get your taxes done this evening in any of the seven tax services in town, count how many upper floors are empty. And I don’t mean empty void of renters, I mean empty as in lacking a C of O. Then, after you’ve gotten so frustrated and annoyed because it takes sixteen months to open a sushi restaurant, walk up North Huron and ask yourself why all those kick-ass Victorians are now law offices. The answer is lack of competition.
The City will now solicit proposals from contractors. The hope is to select a developer soon so that Water Street will be built before I’m dead.
Here is Mr. Lenart’s presentation in all its glory.
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